Author's Note: Ahhhhh I'm so excited to write these out, there's so much to be done in high school~ The next four years of their life will probably be taken at a much slower pace, though there will be parts when I'll have to skip around or fast forward a bit further. I'm looking at my notes, and Freshman year itself is roughly five chapters long (though I have a bad habit of going back and changing things, so that's not entirely set in stone). Basically, the introductory year is probably the shortest. So this is more so a filler/intro chapter. God I miss writing filler. Hopefully this makes up for all the crazy sudden arcs from before, since I'm not entirely sure I have any major ones planned for another two years (fic time haha).

Basic Overview: The boys have entered high school, and are falling into their new routines.

Point of View: 3rd person: Jack/Hiccup alteration

Warnings: Nothing, I'm pleased to say! Just introductions~

Age Reminder: Jack is 14 (9th grade); Hiccup is 13 (9th grade); Emma is 12 (7h grade)

Chapter 36: Comic Books and Movie References


August was the month of confusion and orientation.

It was the month Henrik slept in a little too late and awoke to his father's form standing in the doorway, yammering on about something his grogginess refused to let him understand. He caught something about "being worried about him" and "needing to keep in touch—just in case something happens" before his father tossed something onto his lap; he jolted to attention when it smacked against his lower stomach and landed in his lap. Well. That could have ended badly. He picked it up and brushed the surface with his fingertips, eyes still closed as he navigated the projectile. He could make out a few bumps and an awkward contour along the edge, a split down the middle that lifted both ends and a set of keys under his thumb. Opening his eyes, he realized he was holding a cell phone—a dinky little thing that flipped open and closed with a flick of his wrist. Honestly, it reminded him of the communicators from an episode of Star Trek he'd watched on TV with Jack one afternoon.

His father didn't say much else, just nodded in his direction and informed him that no, he couldn't text anyone with it and his minutes were limited. It had a camera and a little notepad in the apps "in case he needed them" (for what, Henrik wasn't particularly sure), and it was to be used "only for emergencies". He dismissed himself with a sheepish wave and padded down the stairs again. Henrik merely sat there blankly and observed the small object as if it held the answers to life. A cell phone. His own cell phone.

...okay, this really should have been more exciting to him, but he honestly couldn't bring himself to care.

Of course, Jack seemed to make up for his apathy; he chimed on about how cool it was, no matter how dinky the dumb thing even was. He jeered about making "late night calls to the ladies", earning a flustered smack to the arm. Apparently, North didn't think Jack needed one yet. Jack made sure to utilize his impressive faux-Russian accent to explain North's reasoning, cheering loudly, "You are not responsible enough to handle!" He added a spastic swing of his arm for good measure, wagging his index finger sternly. "You get in 'nough trouble without phone—if you have problem, you call me through office, yes?"

Henrik broke into a laughing fit when Jack's voice cracked really badly in his Russian tirade. The other boy merely countered with a flustered oh, shut up!

Their final weeks of freedom were spent (predictably) together, lazing around the houses on most days and occasionally getting out of the house for movies or a walk. The longer they'd spent together, the more Henrik had begun to notice the bounce in Jack's step when he was content, or how he had a tendency to search for a pocket in his pants to stuff his hands in—even when he wasn't wearing jeans. Month after month of being by his side made him note how much taller the other boy was getting, a solid two inches keeping them from the same height. He was getting sick of looking up to talk to the other boy, and was especially tired of the smug little grin Jack got on his face when Henrik did so.

August 29th

The 29th rolled in and both boys could hardly keep their eyes open waiting for the bus.

Jack sarcastically laid on the sidewalk, sprawling out his limbs with a melodramatic aughhhhh. "The sun hasn't even come up yet," he complained, rolling his head along the cool pavement. "I woke up at freakin' 5:30... this should be illegal. LOOK!" He pointed to the sky. "The freaking moon is still out!"

The younger brunet rolled his eyes, turning them to the sky. He blinked a few times, and Jack prided himself in the look of realization on his face. "Oh," he murmured dumbly. Hiccup looked back at his best friend and snickered. "Would get off the ground? You're gonna get dirty."

"Just leave me here to die," Jack groaned, lolling his head back. The distant squeal of tires stole his attention, causing his head to perk up. He stood up again and offered Hiccup a hand to help him onto the bus. The younger boy swatted it away and made his way up without him. Jack merely rolled his eyes.

The bus ride mostly consisted of the two of them taking turns to yawn, resting their heads on each other's shoulders and hastily pushing the other off when people started staring. By the time the bus rolled up to the front entrance of the school, neither of them could find it in themselves to move. Jack literally had to pull Hiccup onto his feet and smacked his cheek to wake him back up.

Most of Jack's morning classes were academic. Of course, (with his dumb luck) all the hardest courses came first—Algebra, Western Civilization, Biology, Gym—with lunch being his only sweet reprieve. The end of his day fortunately looked brighter. He groaned at the realization that he didn't end up in Home Economics; the bottom of his schedule read "Studio Art" instead. Henrik's classes balanced out decently. The harder academics were spread out between Gym, Woodshop, and Lunch, so he could actually take a breather between them. None of his teachers seemed particularly stern or strict, so the year held promise. Much to the boys' dismay, they only met up for Lunch and Biology—but even then, they were on opposite sides of the room. Jack actually had more classes with Leon than he did Hiccup for once, and it was... well, probably the weirdest thing ever. Not that he was complaining, of course—Leon made just as great company.

Henrik found himself in the same Western Civ class as Astrid, and for some weird introduction exercise, the teacher paired them up. The two of them sheepishly bid each other a hello, but mostly sat in silence. When conversation presented itself, they ran with it and bled the topic dry until that damned, awkward silence returned, stubbornly forming a block between them. The most Astrid had managed to say was a brief mention of trying out for the Volleyball team, and Henrik could only offer a rather generic "Wow, I'm sure you'll do great."

When he finally managed to slip out of the Biology lab (god, the teacher nearly rambled past the bell's ring), Henrik glanced down at his schedule and strolled down one of the halls, passing the art room with sigh. He caught a white WOODSHOP printed on one of the doors further down, so he turned the knob and swung inside. Just as he'd assumed, the place looked like a tornado swept through it. The counters were covered in sawdust and loose tools, screwdrivers and wrenches littering the table tops. A couple of safety procedures were posted above the saws, a sink and white box on the wall (branded with a bright red cross; gee, wonder what that was for) not too far from it. On the other side of the room (closer to where he had stood in the doorway) were large, square tables. Scrap pieces of wood with sharpie-written names were thrown on the top of every stool.

Henrik finally found his toward the corner, so he sat down and tossed the scrap of wood in a nearby garbage pail. The classroom filled up about five minutes later than the actual start of the class (why this surprised him, he'd never know), prompting a large, blond man to emerge from the nearby office.

The first thing he had to offer was probably the loudest belch Henrik had ever heard. A few of his classmates laughed at the sound, chattering away as he strolled into the room. Henrik noted his left hand, how the "skin" shined in the light like metal. The knuckles looked like ball joints, fingers curling along them mechanically. When his eyes dipped down, he could see the glimmer of metal come from where his right leg should have been, a thin metal pole connecting to a plastic end instead. Henrik kicked his left leg under the table.

Prosthetics. They were prosthetics—his limbs were fake! Why that was comforting to him, he wasn't sure (he chalked it up to some sick "Oh thank the gods I'm not alone" mentality), but it had definitely caught his attention.

Smacking his lips before he spoke, the man folded his arms over his chest, placing his weight on his left leg. "How many a' yoo have ever used a saw?"

Henrik looked around; no one had raised their hand. The teacher deadpanned.

"Yer kiddin," he rubbed at his forehead, letting out a long sigh. "Well, tha's 'kily fer yoo, yer gonna learn hands on." He held up his right hand, curving his fingers in to point at everyone. "Hands on. Not in. We should a'least try not to lop any fingers off. Go' it?"

Silence must have been enough of an answer. He laughed joyfully.

"Good. Then welcome to Woodshop!" he greeted, throwing up his hands. "Na, I hope we don't have to talk about rules. Yer young adults now; yoo should know better than to play with saws. Am I right?"

The class groaned. "Yes."

"Love the enthusiasm," The teacher sarcastically spat. "Now that tha's out of the way... yoo can call me Gobber."

Henrik blinked. What kind of a name was Gobber?

"If ye haven't figured it ou' yet," he quickly followed his precious statement with. "Tha's not my name. But 's honestly a lot easier t' remember."

...then again, he could probably relate to that.

"Why Gobber? Well, my wife says I don' know when to sho't mah gob."

Only a few students laughed. Henrik snorted quietly.

"...lively bunch, aren't ye?"

The back door creaked open slowly; a head of scraggly brunet hair popping through to make sure Gobber wasn't looking. Sure enough, the teacher's back was turned to the door, his focus on the saws (and how apparently, at least one of them would probably end up losing a finger by the end of the year) across the room. Henrik watched him with a raised eyebrow as he slinked into the room, tip-toeing with his messenger bag lazily slung over his shoulders and his shoes (which looked like dinosaur feet or... slippers, now that he took a good look at them). A few of his pins clanked against the flap, and his key chains jingled; at the sound, he halted to clasp a hand over the offending metal pieces, carefully tip-toeing toward Henrik's table once the sound was subdued. As he came closer, Henrik got a good look at him.

His hair was... pretty scraggly and brown, matted in some places and sticking up at random; honestly, it looked like something sat on the top of his head and died. In the light, some strands held a yellow-ish tint. He wore a plain black t-shirt, a shark-tooth necklace around his neck with little shells sticking off the sides, wooden-pieces filling the gaps. His biceps were ringed twice in a weird sort of crimson color, dark enough for Henrik to register as red, but close enough to his skin tone that he couldn't tell if it was a scar or a tattoo. He sincerely hoped for the latter.

Carefully sliding off his bag onto the table, the scraggly brunet sat down next to Henrik, holding up a finger to his lips when the boy opened his mouth to make a comment. He shushed him silently, watching Gobber's movements carefully.

"So, lit'le late today, aren't ye?" the teacher commented, turning around with his eyes immediately finding the boy at the table. "Tha' was real clever, comin' in the back."

The brunet hissed, shutting his eyes with a laugh. "Eh...ehe... sorry. I... got... lost?"

"Well yer' here," Gobber sighed, scribbling something down in his notebook. "And ye'll be here for jus' today. Next time yer not here before the bell, ay'll lock the doors and ye can git lost in the hall."

He nodded quickly. "Got it."

"Now then! 'ere comes the fun part," Gobber smiled, folding his arms over his chest. "We're gonna play a little game."

Everyone groaned at the notion. Seriously, what was with all the icebreakers?

"Oh, pipe down! 's a fon one." He reassured, waving his hand "Two truths and a lie. Basically, ye tell yer partner two things that're true. One tha's a lie." He looked around, expression full of mock-concern. "I know, i's so hard. Ye still with me? The catch is, if ye' catch yer partner lyin, ye get to whack 'im! If yer' wrong, they get to whack you."

The class went entirely silent. A boy across the room raised his hand and quietly commented, "...can't you get in trouble for that?"

"If you won't tell, I won't tell," the teacher shrugged calmly. "This is an exercise about ehh... getting' te know yer partner. (Ye, tha' sounds good...) Ye'll be working with them for the rest of the year, so ye might as well punch the snot out of each other so we don't have accidents later, right? No excuses! Now then, partner up!"

The room quickly flooded with the roar of students' laughter and commentary. Looking across the room, a few of the guys (and a couple of girls, oddly enough) had already taken him up on the hitting notion, throwing full punches into each other's arms with enthusiastic hoots and hollers. Gobber yelled about how they were supposed to actually say something first, quickly following the comment with praise for their "enthusiasm".

"So, partner~" the other boy sighed, hopping in his stool to turn and face the other. "Why don't you go first?"

Henrik blew his bangs out of his face, huffing with slumped shoulders. "Alright, then... um... I have a dog, my left leg is fake, and my room... is... blue?"

Guy hummed thoughtfully, snapping his fingers shortly after contemplating his comments. "Oh! It's the leg thing, it's definitely the leg thing, I know it!"

The brunet hesitantly rolled up the bottom of his pant leg, biting his lip when the other boy stared blankly at the metal appendage.

While he was off guard, he lightly tapped his arm, regaining his attention. "My room's green," he sheepishly corrected. "Not blue."

Guy whistled, his eyes dipping down to his leg once more. "WHOA," he shouted, chuckling a few times. "Twist ending, did... not see that one coming."

Not entirely sure what to say, the other boy chuckled.

"Oh! Oh!" the scruffy brunet raised his hand enthusiastically, lips curving into an excited smile. "Got it! My turn, here we go—uh... okay, my name is Guy, I have two younger sisters, aaaand... hm... oh! I live in a treehouse."

Henrik blinked a few times. Didn't Gobber say to not make them obvious?

"Geez," He sarcastically drawled. "Wonder which one's the lie."

The other boy put up his hands, pursing his lips with a grin. "You never know!" he turned a bit, presenting his arm to the other boy eagerly. "Think you got it?"

The brunet sniggered. "No really, I'm stumped. It's the tree-house thing, right?"

"Aw come onnnnnn... uhhhhhh..." he held out the last bit, craning his neck to sneak a peek at his notebook.

Henrik merely chuckled at the gesture. He bowed his head. "Henrik."

"Henrik," the other repeated thoughtfully. "Not that I don't like it or anything (I do, I do) but uh... you have a nickname or something I could call you maybe? Henry? Ricky? H to the R?"


"Well shoot," he pouted. "I'll come up with something for you, don't you worry about it."

"Really, you don't have to—"

"—right then!" The scraggly brunet interjected, leaning against the table's edge with his arm forward once more. "You gave your guess right? So let's get right to it, then. Punch me."

Henrik stammered. "Whoa, whoa I thought Gobber was just kidding about that!"

"'a definitleh wasn't."

Henrik and the other boy turned, to find Gobber smiling at the other side of the table. He hobbled over with a toothy smile.

"How goes it? Ye two mehkin' any progress?"

The two of them quietly nodded.

"Yeah, my buddy Henrik and I are doin' just fine—just waiting on him to hit me."

The large teacher put a hand on the boy's shoulder, throwing up a hand toward Guy. "Well what are ye' waiting for?" he laughed, shaking Henrik a little. "Let 'er rip!"

"I-I don't wanna hit him," Henrik shrugged, twiddling his fingers in his lap anxiously. "I mean, I don't even know him."

"That's the poin' a the exercise, Henrik," Gobber reminded him. "Yer gonna be workin' with Guy all year—migh' as well get t' know 'im."

"...okay but do I really have to hit him to do that—"

The teacher groaned. "Wouldje jus' punch 'im already?!"

Sucking in a deep breath, Henrik curled his fingers into a tight fist. He squeezed his eyes tightly, reeled it back, and let it fly forward as hard as he could manage.

"I... am... so sorry, Guy."

Henrik rubbed at his upper arm soothingly, bowing his head shyly when the other boy turned his head slightly to look his way. From the corner of his eye, he could a smile work its way onto the other's thin lips, boisterous cackling quickly following suit. He wasn't entirely sure why Guy was handling this so well, especially considering that they'd only known each other for a solid 30 minutes and all the freckled teen had managed to do was call him a liar and give him a bloody nose.

"No, no, don't worry about it!" Guy reassured, his fingers still pinched over his nose with his head tilted back a bit. He glanced at Henrik from the corner of his eyes, using his other hand to accompany his words with random gestures. "This is good, it's good—we're uh... now we've already got our first memory as partners together, right? One day we're gonna look back at this and be all, 'Oh whoa Guy,'" he put on a goofy voice, assumedly mocking the other's. "'Remember that time I like, gave you a bloody nose in woodshop freshman year?' and I'll be all," he cleared his throat, returning to his usual nasally tone. "'Aw yeah! Good times, man, good times...'"

The only response Henrik could muster was a laugh at his stupid comment, the guilt in his head easing with the thrum of laughter. "I guess so," he emptily commented, shaking his head. "But... I dunno, I just feel bad, is all."

"Well don't," Guy sternly commanded. "I mean, it kinda stings but it's all good! No blood no foul. Or... wait, no, there is blood... So... there's blood but there's no foul? I... think?" he thought about what he wanted to say for a moment, eventually shrugging off the now passing thought with a laugh. "Well... whatever, buddy. I'm just impressed you could hit me this hard; you pack a mean punch for such a little dude."

Henrik wasn't entirely sure how to respond to that, so he nodded his head, furrowing his eyebrows a bit at the implication of being small.

"If you really feel bad, though, I'll just owe you a hit later, 'kay?"

The freckled teen merely nodded. "Yeah, okay."

"I'm serious; I'm holding you to that punch. I'm taking it to the grave, you hear me? Like wham—" he stopped to kick out his leg, stumbling forward clumsily. Regaining his balance, he narrowed his eyes and shot Henrik a foreboding glare. "But with my fist. At any minute. Of any day. You won't know when it's comin'!"

Henrik could only roll his eyes, folding his arms over his chest. "Alright, alright. I owe you one free punch, as hard as you can whenever you want."

"And you can carry my books for a day."

"Whoa, hold up—"

"And call me Sir Guy the Most Awesome."

"Or," the freckled teen snorted, elbowing his arm weakly. "You get a punch and I don't Hulk out on you."

"See?" Guy sniggered. "We're getting along already, partner."

They halted in front of the Nurse's office, turning to one another.

"Welp," Guy sighed, tilting his head back a little more. "This is my stop. Thanks for the walk, Henry!"

Henrik shook his head. "It's... still Henrik, Guy."

"Not feelin' Henry, got it," he waved his free hand as if to brush away the thought. "We'll try somethin' else some other time, then, 'kay?"

Part of him wanted to tell him they wouldn't, but he honestly didn't have the heart. Instead, he shook his head, dismissing the other boy with a wave of his hand. Guy started for the door.

"...oh right, Guy?"

The scraggly brunet seemed pleased to be called by his name, turning to the other boy with his fingers still pinched around his nose and a smile on his face. "Yes?"

"About before," Henrik sheepishly began. "You um... you never said which one was the lie."

Guy processed what he said for a moment, thinking back to his previous comments. When the memory returned to him, he snorted, shaking his head. "Oh, right," he grinned. "It's the sister thingy. I'm actually an only child."

He turned to retreat into the nurse's office, returning to the freckled teen before he opened the door. As an afterthought, he lightly punched his upper arm and proudly strided through the door, leaving Henrik on his own in the hall. The freckled teen sighed, turning back the way he came. Part of him wasn't sure if he should go back to class or wait it out until Guy came back out (despite everything, he still felt really bad for giving him a bloody nose), so he awkwardly turned back and forth with each choice his mind rapidly settled on. After an intense mental debate (mostly consisting of flustered thoughts and the ever-so-mature game of Einie meenie minnie moe), he spun on his heel and stumbled down the hall, hanging a left toward the workshop. It took him a moment to let the other brunet's words sink into his head, until he halted mid-hallway at his final comment.

Henrik was then left with the realization that if what Guy said was true, it meant he seriously lived a tree house.

Jack could easily describe the art wing in three simple words: big, quiet, and white.

For a hallway dedicated to the creative prowess of the students, the walls were an almost dreary shade of white, paintings hung up delicately (and some crookedly, he noted) and sculptures precariously placed inside the display cases. Honestly, he wasn't sure what made some of them art persay (some pieces were literally just jagged lines arranged and overlaid along the page, some breaking the contours and trailing off the page), but he shrugged it off and made his way further down the hall, skimming his eyes over room numbers in search of his class. Finally, he reached the end and caught the bright white ART ROOM 1 plated beside a door and carefully pulled on the knob. The door refused to budge.

Great. His teacher wasn't even here yet—he actually decides to be on time for class he didn't even want to take, and his teacher isn't here.

Jack groaned, turning on his heel to lean against his wall. His back slumped against the white-wash drywall, books piling over his lap comfortable as he hit the floor. He crossed his ankles and drummed a random beat on his thighs, the acoustics of the empty hall echoing it back. Distant chatters filled some of the empty space, slowly slurring and eventually crescendoing into a comforting reminder that he wasn't quite alone. Jack almost did a victory dance when a girl with long, braided blonde hair hummed as she spun the corner, skipping on the tips of her toes to the door. Amusingly enough, the way she walked reminded him of a princess daintily prancing around a castle—like something straight out of a Disney movie or something. He half-expected her to break into song.

The blonde girl tittered under her breath, fishing something out of her purse. She turned to Jack and smiled. "Lemme guess, it's locked?"

"Yeah," Jack nodded, hoisting himself onto his feet once more. "I... don't think anyone's here yet."

"You and I are, and that's good enough for me," she stated bluntly, smiling brightly as the arm digging through her purse halted abruptly. "Aha!" She proudly held up a thin, metal rod.

"Am I supposed to know what that is?"

She shrugged. "Maybe. I'll have the door in a sec."

The bright blonde shimmied it through the keyhole and jiggled it a few times, staring at it with utter concentration. Jack blinked. Hold up a second—was she... she... was seriously trying to pick the lock? Sure enough, the door clicked open with a deft flick of her wrist, and she threw it open with a confident grin plastered across her lips soon after.

"Ta-da~!" she gestured to the door in a grand, Vanna White-style manner. "Ten seconds. New record."

Jack stared at her blankly. "Do you just... always keep a lock pick on you or something?"

"No, no, my boyfriend gave them to me for Valentine's Day last year."

...and oddly, her answer only raised more questions in the brunet's head.

"...and... your... boyfriend just has a stash of lock picks."

"Tons," she chirped, looking over the desks. "What's your name, again?"

"Jack Overland."

The blonde giggled. "That's such a movie name. Like, Jack Overland," she repeated his name with a low, dramatic voice. "It sounds like you should have a superpower or something."

Jack snickered. "I wish."

"So, do you going flying in your free time, then?"

"Oh yeah, all the time," he jested. "Ya' know it's funny—here I was thinking I'd be an ice caster."

"Ice or flying... that's a toughie," She pondered for a moment and clapped. "How about both? Even better."

"Both is good."

"Sweet," she chirped enthusiastically, plucking her paper off her desk. She gestured to the seat next to her with a smile. "You're with me this year, freshie."

"Freshie?" Jack repeated with a scoff. "Uh oh. And~ what year am I getting picked on by?"

The blonde fell silent. She sighed. "...also a freshman. I was kind of banking on you not asking."

"Ah," he laughed, settling himself into his seat beside her.

The class filled in shortly after, a thin, brunette marching up to the front of the class with a bright smile. From Jack paid attention to (and it wasn't much, to be fully honest; she was such a lively speaker but the words she spoke continuously drowned out like white noise in the boy's ears), she seemed like a nice teacher. She had a tendency to smile at the class when her previous one fell, a chirp in her voice and broad hand gestures constantly accompanying her words. A comment made it into her speech about how she could have sworn the door was locked when she'd came in this morning, prompting the blonde girl at Jack's side to throw him a knowing wink. She passed out a piece of paper to each of the students, informing them shortly after that she'd like to get a "gage on just how talented you all are". The task was to draw a chair without using a reference and hand it in at the end of class. Simple, right?

Actually, no.

Jack scratched at the paper with the slightest twitch of frustration. The pencil tip scraped with a distressing amount of difficulty, the graphite squeaky against the material; despite his effort to properly curve the line, it came out thin and coarse in his sketchpad. He glanced at the side, grumbling about how stupid the dang thing was as he searched for some kind of magic switch, or "art mode" button on the side. When his labor bore no fruits, he shook his head and tried again, drawing a thin line with a squeak. Seriously, what the heck? Was it broken or something...?

The girl beside him glanced over and caught his eyes, sheepishly smiling at him. "Having trouble?"

"Yeah, I can't even use a pencil right," Jack chuckled, giving the offending instrument the stink-eye. "I seriously suck."

"I mean, aside from the rough line work your sketch looks alright," she shyly commented, holding out a hand with curled fingers and a flat palm. "May I please see your pencil?"

With a shrug, he passed it over between his index and middle fingers, watching her carefully squint at the wooden sides. Turning it a bit, she nodded her head with a soft chuckle and turned to him once more with a knowing smile. "It... might help if you were using the right value," the blonde girl stated, holding up the pencil with the print facing Jack. He blinked, noting the black 4H carved in the side. "H's are too coarse. You probably want a 2B for sketching and shading. Er... well, that's what I use."

He blinked a few times. Was he supposed to know what that meant or...?

She bowed her head, carefully letting the pencil roll down his desk to meet the spiral of his sketchbook. "The graphite's a lot softer," she explained, turning to fish something out of her floral-printed pencil pouch. With a triumphant aha!, she proudly held up another pencil. "Try this one, you'll see."

Jack carefully took the pencil and delicately dragged the point against the paper. Sure enough, the graphite left its mark the way he intended it to. "...oh," he dumbly responded, rubbing at the back of his neck with his other hand. "That... that explains a lot."

"You can borrow it, if you don't have one," she smiled, expertly twirling her own pencil through her fingers. "I have like... three. I do need it back later, though. If you don't mind, that is~"

"Yeah, yeah, no problem," the brunet nodded, returning her smile. "Thanks."

"So," Jack fumbled for something to say, the silence of the room almost unbearable. "You're um... how long have you been drawing?"

The blonde shrugged her shoulders, eyes never leaving the page. "As long as I can remember, I guess. I... thought it'd be a good idea to start taking actual classes for it, you know what I mean?"

He nodded thoughtfully. "Yeah, that makes sense. Learn something new, right?"

She smiled without a word. Jack stammered for another comment but found himself sighing with defeat. Jack returned to his own crude doodle, groaning at the messy scratches across the page and smudges from his elbow resting against it. Great. Now he'd have to go back and erase everything... Seriously though; how could people work when it was so quiet? It drove him mad that there was no sound to focus on, nothing to momentarily divert his attention from the task at hand. He was so used to the constant noise at home; to North's music blaring in his study; to the sound of Emma screaming down the hall to get his attention; even to the sound of the TV buzzing away downstairs when he was home alone and needed to find a way to make himself think someone was down there. Jack needed some kind of sound to keep him grounded but there was nothing. When his house was quiet, it meant that something was happening, that there was no one around and Jack was by himself again. Maybe it was a strange association, but noise just sort of made good company.

Yet there was something peaceful about the silence, too. Though the silence was weird to adjust to, the constant knowledge that he wasn't by himself left him room to relax; he could feel the presence of his peers in the row behind him, and the girl beside him was undoubtedly there (her pencil being his main proof of that). I suppose it wasn't all that bad. Unsettling as hell? Kind of, yeah—but there was a kind of liberty that came with silence. If he pressed hard enough against the paper, the tip squeaked and grinded out a quiet shaa. It was a small noise, but... something to focus on, I guess.

All in all, Jack was alone with his thoughts without being alone, and he wasn't quite sure if that was a blessing or a curse.

He tried to settle on the former and went back to doodling in his sketchpad.

"Yo, Henrik!"

The brunet scanned his around the lunchroom, searching for source of the call. His eyes caught Guy's across the room, the tanned teen waving his arm back and forth frantically to gain his attention. Henrik rolled his eyes, strolling across the lunchroom.

"Hey, Guy," Henrik waved, sliding into a seat across from him. His eyes turned from the table top to the boy across the table, his attention mostly on his nose and the unusually wide grin on his plastered on his face. "So eh... how's your nose?"

The dirty blond beside him looked genuinely confused by his question; he quickly and quietly turned to Guy for an explanation.

"Done bleeding, did you see?" Guy smiled at both of them. He pointed to his nose for emphasis. "You got me good, though." He nudged the blond at his side with his elbow. "This is my woodshop body, Henry. He totally gave me a gusher today."

"A gusher? Come on, I didn't hit you that hard." the freckled teen corrected with a wistful sigh. "And it's still Henrik,"

"Shoot! I forgot you weren't too hot on Henry..." he shook his head, tsking at himself disappointedly. "Well, that's alright. We'll come up with something! I'm a master of naming things. Just ask Fishlegs here, he'll tell you."

Fishlegs bowed his head shyly, cheeks a light pink (though Henrik couldn't quite chalk that up to embarrassment, due to his complexion). He elbowed Guy and kept his voice low, leaning close to him. "Did you really have to call me that in front of the new kid?"

Guy smacked his elbow playfully, a grin on his face. "No reason to be shy—Henrik's not a hostile!" He reassured, leaning across the table with a hand cupped beside his mouth. His eyes narrowed at Henrik. "You're not a hostile, right?"

He shook his head with a snigger. "No?"

"See? Henrik's cool!"

"Eh... not that I'm doubting your amazing naming skills or anything," Henrik began, brushing his bangs out of his eyes. "But why Fishlegs?"

The two other boys shot each other a twin pair of looks, both of them seeming to inquire who would tell their tale. Eventually, Guy let out a long sigh and slouched comfortably over the table top. "So we were in the same middle school, right?" Though his question was probably rhetorical, Fishlegs and Henrik nodded along. "We didn't really talk too much, I kinda didn't know he was even in our school. Then one day, in like... what was it, 7th grade? (That sound right, Felix?) So we're in gym class and the teacher tells us we've gotta run the mile before we can play. I'm in like 3 laps, and I look across the field and who do you think I see?"

He paused dramatically. Henrik wasn't entirely sure if he was supposed to guess or not here, so he supplied, "...Fishlegs?"

"Exactly! He's wheezing and hacking and I swear, his legs were shaking so bad. I blink for like half a second and suddenly, he's keeled over."

Henrik's eyes widened. Guy seemed a lot more amused by this story than he probably should have been.

"It was an asthma attack," the blond explained calmly. "I just couldn't breathe well, that was all."

"Asthma attack, right. So I start freaking the hell out, right? I run over to help him to the nurse and he's like, flopping around on the ground like a fish out of water." Guy choked back a laugh, knocking his knuckles into Fishleg's shoulder as if to cue him to start laughing too. The blond looked flustered, as if he didn't know what to do. "Oh, man..."

" how exactly did you get Fishlegs out of that?"

"Easy," the scraggly teen scoffed. "I asked for his name and when he tried to say Felix it sounded like," Guy broke into a mock-coughing fit, earning a snort from Fishlegs beside him. "So I just kind of invented something."

"Something being Fishlegs," Henrik reaffirmed, chuckling at his friends' comment.

Guy nodded. "Fishlegs indeed."

Henrik could feel himself starting to sweat under his hoodie, so he shucked it off over his head and tossed it on top of his book-pile. As he combed a few fingers through the mess of hair on top of his head (and he could only imagine how it looked now), he caught Fishlegs staring at him from the corner of his eye. For a minute, he wasn't sure if he'd knocked something over or if someone was behind him (for the latter, he even glanced over his shoulder quickly). He waved a hand in front of the sandy blond's eyes.

"Oh, eh, sorry," Fishlegs sheepishly apologized. "I like your t-shirt. Spiderman, right?"

Henrik actually had to look down at his shirt to remember what the heck he'd even put on this morning. A smile lit his face. "Yeah," he nodded shyly. "The eh... the comic book store I go to was giving them away for some promotional thing."

"Cool," Fishlegs grinned. His expression got grave for a brief moment. "Are you Marvel or DC?"

Honestly, Henrik was all over the place. His stack was a mess of mismatch Batman issues and Spiderman titles he didn't bother to sort out. "Is 'I don't really care, as long as it's good line-up' an option?"

The blond turned to Guy with an excited smile. "I like this one."

Guy grinned triumphantly. "Told you."

The first thing Henrik did when he got home was shuck off his backpack and plop onto his bed face-first.

He let out a long, exhausted groan into the duvet, letting his limbs relax contently. Toothless immediately came trotting into the room at the sound, hopping onto the bed (after miserably failing a few times, he managed to stick the landing) with a wagging tail. Henrik turned onto his back to give him some room, but the little dog insisted on curling up on his lap instead of at his side. The brunet squirmed uncomfortably as the little warrior's weight came down at his lower stomach. He called for him to move a little, but Toothless refused to budge. So instead, he was left to awkwardly pelvic-thrust until Toothless got the idea and shuffled off of his lap. A laugh left his throat, melting into a contented sigh to be by his little friend's side. He scratched behind his ear and sniggered when Toothless's leg kicked, scuffing him in the knee a few times.

Man, it felt nice to have company after the day had dragged on so long and so... well, lonely.

Henrik felt a sigh pass his lips at the recollection, his thoughts weighing down with the dread of being stuck on his own again. Sure, he'd spotted Astrid in his Biology class but eh... talking to her felt so strange after everything had transpired, not out of spite or anything like that, but a general discomfort in trying to force small talk. It was at least nice to have someone to partner up with on pair projects if he needed to. Other than that, he really didn't have anyone to talk to in his classes. Sometimes he bumped into Jack in the hallways, or spotted Leon walking out of the lunchroom and threw him a lazy wave, but that was about it. Transitioning between constantly seeing his best friend at school to barely being able to say hi to the dork was... weird. Especially after spending most of his summer with the dork. Maybe he just missed being able to talk to him when the subject got insufferably dry, or looking over to his side and seeing that wide, dorky smile of his beaming in his direction.

A sigh worked past his lips. He wasn't entirely sure how his thoughts had turned to Jack, but he put that aside (though, it seemed to happen a lot lately). What the heck was his problem, anyways? He never usually felt bothered by being alone, and it wasn't as if he'd never see Jack; his next-door idiot would pop-in here and there—no matter how much work he had to do, that much was certain.

The tip of his pencil lethargically dragged across the page, scribbling down his name in the left corner.


The brunet blinked a few times. Putting down his book and pencil, he listened closely.

"Oh~ Hi~ccup?"

Henrik felt a laugh bubble in his stomach. Sure enough, when he peeked past the curtain Jack was right outside, sitting on his window ledge with a hand cupped beside his mouth. Speak of the devil, he thought to himself with a snigger. He could have very easily opened up the window for him or mouthed "What?" through the glass... but honestly, just leaving him there to shout was a lot funnier in his head. Especially when he caught North's voice somewhere in the mix, screaming back at him in Russian (presumably to shut up).

A groan echoed off the rooftops. Cupping both hands around his mouth, Jack hollered as loud as he could manage, "HENRIK HORACE HADDOCK."

Henrik could hear North shout at him again as clear as day. The other boy winced at the sound, hollering something back through his own window. The idiot... Rolling his eyes, he shimmied off the side of the bed and tugged open the curtain, throwing open the window with a loud thud. Choking back a laugh, he yelled back just as loudly, "Jeez! Would you quit yelling?! You know people are trying to sleep, right?"

Jack merely laughed, shimmy out the window and onto the roof. He carefully shut the window behind him.

Henrik rolled his eyes. "And who the hell told you my middle name is Horace?"

"Well for one, you just did."

He raised an eyebrow. Somehow he doubted that was a lucky guess.

"I just happened to remember it," the older shrugged. He blinked a few times at the look on Henrik's face and scoffed. "Calm down, would you? I come in peace."

"What do you want, anyway?"

"Gosh, you're always just so happy to see me... It's never 'oh hey Jack how are you' it's what do you want," Jack smiled, shaking his head with a laugh. He bowed it shortly after. "So eh... you're gonna think this is dumb—"

"Yeah, probably."

The look on his face was priceless. Jack deadpanned completely.

"Okay, how about screw you—I'll go ask someone else."

Henrik fought back a scoff. What a drama queen... "Okay, okay, what?"

"I just didn't know how to do one of the questions on the math homework—that was all!" The eldest threw up his hands, curling in on himself jokingly. "Don't shoot me, please. It's like, the first day and I don't even know if I have the capacity for this take-home quiz."

"What subject?"

Jack mock-gagged, shivering dramatically. "Algebra."

"Of course it's math," Henrik sighed, folding his arms over his chest with a smile. Part of him wanted to jokingly tell the other boy to take a hike, but a good majority urged him otherwise, slightly flattered that Jack didn't run to North for help but him instead. "Fine. My house or yours?"

Jack merely grinned. "Whichever."

Henrik tried to ignore the sink and bubbles in his stomach the little gesture brought with it. Instead, he merely rolled his eyes and nodded toward his own room, sliding through the window with the slightest unease.

Author's Note: And so, Guy joins the chaos~ I'm excited to have him around now. I've been extremely pumped to write him in the role he has here (also he's a favorite of mine, simply because he's just an extremely fun character in general). So yes, he's a keeper for the rest of the story. Next chapter there are only a few more introductions I need to cover. Other than that, it's smooth sailing. Or smooth-ish sailing. Twists and feelings and whatnot. Thanks for reading and reviewing, see you next chapter~!